Records indicate that the first sweaters were knit less than two centuries ago - in the 17th century. Before that time smaller pieces and undergarments were knit. The earliest, historical, example of true knitting is a pair of patterned cotton socks found in Egypt, dating back to A.D. 1100 - a mere 9 centuries ago. There may be knitted pieces found in India which were worked prior to that. Weaving and other textile arts date back to prehistory, so knitting is the textile infant.

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The most widely recognized form of knitting needle, probably invented in the mid 19th Century, is usually called a straight needle. Straight needles are narrowed nearly to a point at one end and capped at the other with a knob or head (like the head of a straight pin), and are used almost exclusively for knitting flat two-dimensional fabrics like rectangles and squares.

According to a study done by Research Inc. for Craft Yarn Council of America, 34 million women in 1994 crocheted or knitted. In 2002, some 38 million women do.

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